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The Alpha Flight

The Alpha Flight, art by John Byrne

The Alpha Flight is a superhero team published by Marvel Comics as a premier superhero team of Canada akin to America’s Avengers. The group first appeared in The Uncanny X-Men issue #120, released in April 1979 as a part of Wolverine’s backstory. From 1983 to 1994, Marvel had published the Alpha Flight’s own comic book series. In the comic series, Alpha Flight is a superhero team that was organized under the control of the Department H of the Canadian Government.

The Birth of ‘The Flight’

About ten years ago, an engineer named James MacDonald Hudson resigned from the American-Canadian petrochemical company. Hudson left after learning that the super-powered suit he built would be used for the geological exploration of the United States Military. After that, his superior’s executive secretary, Heather McNeil, also resigned from the company. Following their resignation, the two arranged an appointment with the officials of the Canadian government. The officials then settled the damage incurred after Hudson left the company and stole his invention, the psycho-cybernetic helmet. Subsequently, the Canadian prime minister invited Hudson to take part in the creation of the top-secret research and development agency, called the Department H, within the Canadian Ministry of Defense. Following these events, after Hudson married McNeil, he recruited the mutant called Wolverine as one of the Department H’s special agents.

Reading a newspaper account about how Reed Richards and three of his friends have become the Fantastic Four, James Hudson was inspired to create a team of superhero agents that would fight along with the Canadian government on their missions. Wolverine helped Hudson in the early stage of the creation of the group called ‘The Flight.’

First Mission and Reorganization

The team initially consisted of Wolverine, Saint Elmo, Stitch, Smart Alec, and Sean Bernard, who later became Groundhog after donning Hudson’s early prototype of the super-suit.During their missions, Hudson and Walter Langkowski alias Sasquatch acted as the team’s support crew. On the team’s first mission, they encountered criminals led by Egghead, who planned to launch a nuclear missile in New York City. During the fight, while everyone is battling against the criminals, Smart Alec tried to disarm the missile. However, his failure to disarm the nuclear missile led to the death of Saint Elmo after sacrificing himself in order to destroy the missile. Consequently, almost after that mission, the disheartened Groundhog quit from The Flight.

The failure of the initial Flight’s plan prompted a massive reorganization of the team’s procedures. The revised standard procedure for the Alpha Flight recruits was that they would begin as members of a training team called Gamma Flight. Upon successfully completing their initial training, the recruits would move to the Beta Flight Transitional Team to undertake more advanced training. Those who proved successful in Beta Flight would officially join Alpha Flight, a team of agents who would take part in major missions.

Adventures and Missions

Wolverine left the Department H over his own reasons and decided to join the X-Men, a team of mutant heroes. Meanwhile, Hudson worked to expand his super-powered suit, which soon became the costume that he wore himself as a leader of Alpha Flight after Wolverine’s resignation. In the series, Stitch’s fate was never revealed, while Smart Alec was demoted to Gamma Flight.The team Alpha Flight gradually grew to six members, including Hudson as Vindicator, Shaman, Sasquatch, Aurora, Northstar, and Snowbird. One of the team’s first missions was to try to recapture Wolverine, although they allowed him to resume his affiliation with the X-Men.Shortly after that, the entire Alpha Flight program and the Department H were dissolved by the Canadian government for financial reasons. However, when the Great Beasts attacked Canada, the anti-heroine named Thundra, The Alpha Flight, and the Beta Flight members, Marrina and Puck, joined forces to destroy the Beasts.

When James Hudson apparently died in the course of Alpha Flight’s first major battle against the Omega Flight team, The Alpha Flight went on with Heather, James’ wife, as their team leader. During that time, Heather also took the mantle of the hero Vindicator. Ever since then, the team’s membership has fluctuated occasionally. While other members, including Talisman, Box, and Madison Jeffries, continue to be presented, some members such as Northstar and Snowbird, leave for a variety of personal reasons.Subsequently, the Canadian government resumed the financial support for Alpha Flight and established the team’s headquarters on Tamarind Island off British Columbia.

Over time, the alliance between the government and the team were strained. Canadian intelligence agent and Alpha Flight liaison, Gary Cody, were looking for a way to keep the Alpha Flight in line. He then resurrected the Bedlam, a creature created by Hudson in the early program of Department H. Bedlam killed Cody and destroyed a large part of the Department H before confronting the Alpha Flight. The team eventually thwarted the creature and his agents, but the team was almost destroyed.After the fight, the team had undergone a recovery process. When they finally returned, they almost caused a conflict in China. As a result, the Alpha Flight effectively disbanded. Eventually, Department H’s programs have been perverted and taken over for evil purposes. However, through several deaths and resurrections, sudden reversals, and strange transformations, the Alpha Flight remains faithful to its mission of protecting their beloved homeland.

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